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Do you understand Maryland open container laws?

On Behalf of | Apr 7, 2023 | Criminal Defense

Most people know that driving under the influence is a serious offense with severe consequences. But do you know that you can be charged with DUI if you are caught with an open container of an alcoholic beverage in your car?

The Maryland open container laws govern the transportation and consumption of alcohol in public spaces. Per this law, an open container refers to any can, bottle or receptacle that is open, has a broken seal or has its content (alcohol) partially removed. 

What you need to know about Maryland open container laws

At the very basic, Maryland’s open container law prohibits the possession of an open container of any alcoholic beverage in public places as well as personal vehicles. While this is a misdemeanor offense, it is important to understand that a conviction will still remain on your record, and this can impact various aspects of your life for years to come. 

But what if you are a passenger?

Maryland law explicitly prohibits an open container of alcohol in both the passenger and driver compartments of the vehicle. Thus, neither the driver nor the passenger can consume alcohol while in the vehicle. 

Exceptions to the open container law

However, this law provides an exception for non-drivers who occupy the back seats of hired vehicles. Thus, a driver of a hired vehicle may not be responsible for their passengers’ open containers as long as they are not drinking alongside their passengers. 

The law also exempts open containers in the trunk or locked glove compartments or areas behind the rearmost upright seat if the car does not have a trunk. 

Protecting your rights

An open container violation is a misdemeanor offense that is punishable by fines. Learning how Maryland open container laws work can help you defend yourself and protect your rights if you are caught up on the wrong side of the law.